How collectible is your firearm? These Outdoor Canada readers find out

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I purchased an old Winchester in .40-82 (above) and I’d like to know its actual value. It’s in mint condition, complete with the original green cloth case and the flip-up peep site. The serial number is 114489, and it was made in 1898 from what I can tell. The original owner was my grandfather, Charlie Schneider, who shot deer with it. Thanks in advance for your info and expertise.

Jeff Rauch

Abbotsford, B.C.

You didn’t mention the model number, but because your rifle is chambered in .40-82, it is almost certainly a Model 1886. Winchester serial number records from the factory and from the polishing room records don’t always match up, but they indicate your rifle was made in 1897 or 1898.

Model 1886 rifles are highly collectible and valuable, especially if they’re in the condition you describe. Just a point of interest, some gun collectors insist “mint” is a term that should only be used by coin collectors to describe a coin that looks exactly the way it did on the day it was minted. The term many gun collectors prefer is “factory new,” meaning the firearm is in exactly the same condition as it was when it left the factory. Since you say your grandfather use the rifle to hunt deer, it wouldn’t be factory new. I’ve never seen a factory-new Model 1886, even in photos, but such a rifle would be very valuable, easily worth as much as $30,000, if not more.

An 1886 of this vintage should have a case-hardened receiver, and the more case colouring that remains, the more collectors will pay for it. The first thing you should do is obtain a Winchester factory letter; you can order it online for US$75 from the Wyoming-based Cody Firearms Museum (www.centerofthewest.org). The letter should tell you whether the tang sight you mention is factory original. If it is, that would add value to the gun, as would the octagonal barrel.

Rifles such as yours don’t come on the market very often in Canada, so it’s difficult to provide even a range of possible values. That said, I’ve seen Model 1886s, in 50 per cent or less of their original condition, with asking prices of US$3,500 to US$4,000 on American gun websites. In the condition you describe, especially if the case colouring is good, your rifle could easily get double that.

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